Gridiron Rhetoric: Week 5

[Cross blogged for Leland Quarterly]

When UCLA plays Stanford every year, there’s usually more than just California pride on the lines.  The Bruin sees himself as the scrappy underdog fighting valiantly against those monocled ivory towerists and “hella” aficionados from the frozen North, the archfiend Stanford, surpassed in private-school snobbery only by those insufferable Trojans.  The Stanford student sees a 35-0 drubbing on UCLA home turf last year.

But what a home turf UCLA has.  The majestic Rose Bowl, crown jewel in the coronet of the San Gabriel Valley, is as storied as it is—I begrudgingly admit—deserving.  (Though we can take solace in the fact that, while the Rose Bowl was opened in 1922, UCLA didn’t foist itself onto that hallowed turf until 1982.)  In fact, the Rose Bowl is just one of a number of celebrated stadiums in the Pac-12 conference—each as characterful as the team that haunts its locker rooms.

  • The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA.  Home to the UCLA Bruins and, once, Bono.  Seats upwards of 90,000, depending on the game.  Has hosted two Olympics, one men’s FIFA World Cup Final, one women’s FIFA World Cup Final, one MLS Cup, five Super Bowls, and approximately eight billion bowls of Lucky Charms.[1]  It also usually has some kind of football game on New Year’s Day.

This is 90,000 people. Imagine each of them carrying 88,889 bowls of Lucky Charms.

  • The Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA.  Home to the USC Trojans and, presumably, their goddamn horse.  Also seats upwards of 90,000.  Has hosted two Olympics, one World Series, one Super Bowl, almost two dozen Pro Bowls, one Superbowl of Motorcross, one Evel Knievel jump, one Pope John Paul II mass, and, for thirteen seasons, the Oakland Raiders.  Notable for being one of the few stadiums that manages to look as pretentious as the fans that flock to it.

Are they fighting on down there? I can’t really see.

  • Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR.  Home to the Oregon (Mighty) Ducks.  Seats 54,000, or one seat per Oregon uniform permutation.  Has hosted high school football championships.  More importantly, was in Animal House.  Autzen has a bit of a reputation for being a bit loud—like, 127 decibels loud.  For reference: 127 decibels is somewhere between a jackhammer and a rifle, and is just 3 dB away from the pain threshold.

It may look like less than 54,000, but that’s because the vertical stripes are slimming.

  • California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA.  Home of the dirty Golden Bears and a pretty unfair view of the San Francisco Bay.  Seated 72,000 last season, but will only seat 63,000 in the future.  Has hosted some Raiders games (those guys get around) as well as the Hayward Fault, which moves the northeast half of the stadium away from the southwest half of the stadium about 1.2 millimeters each year.  Allow me to reiterate that: even Cal’s stadium is trying to flee the college.

Admittedly, this is not during a game. During a game the stadium is equally empty, but the hill in the background is full with swarms of parsimonious or just penurious Cal fans.

  • And, finally, Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA.  Home to the mighty Stanford Cardinal.  Seats 50,000.  However, this stadium is just five years old—before that, Stanford’s old Stadium sat a whopping 85,500 and hosted one Super Bowl, one Olympics, one men’s FIFA World Cup, one women’s FIFA World Cup, and one presidential nomination acceptance speech (take a guess whose).  What has our new, smaller, more intimate stadium done?  Well, nothing like the previous one.  And the construction of our new stadium killed one of the workers.  Soooo… there’s some work to be done rebuilding Stanford Stadium’s reputation.

But don’t hold that against us.

I firmly believe, however, that this season will be a return to the kind of reputation (and ticket sales) not seen since, well, the last time Stanford seemed to be playing pretty decent football.  And you know what?  We have a beautiful, brand new stadium to do it in.  And it’s not built on a fault line.

So UCLA has their Rose Bowl.  We’ll let ‘em have it.  Because you know what’s the only other thing UCLA can hold over our heads?  Their number of NCAA championships—most in the country at 107 (Stanford’s second with 101).  Well, the engineer in me decided to look at the data.  Enjoy your gloating while you can, Bruins.

Does that look like we’re about to pass them? I’d say it looks like we’re about to pass them.

Finally, a look at some rhetoric from around the internet:

If approximated as a cylinder.